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Suzanne Lockhart. M.A. Criminology thesis University of Melbourne, 2005 Current: PhD candidate University of S.A Identity Fraud – Displacement effects and diffusion of benefits. ARC/AUSTRAC project. Community Perceptions of Biometric Technology. Human identification.

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Suzanne Lockhart

M.A. Criminology thesis

University of Melbourne, 2005

Current: PhD candidate

University of S.A

Identity Fraud – Displacement

effects and diffusion of benefits.

ARC/AUSTRAC project.

Community Perceptions of Biometric Technology

Human identification

  • Moved from a social context of belonging to a group or family where associates rely on peculiarities such as appearance, voice and shared knowledge.

  • To a more complex process based on economic necessity.

Drivers for enhanced identity infrastructures

  • Terrorism – identity crimes

  • Globalization of economic & social life - transfer of information, goods, people and convergence of computing and communication technologies.

  • Australia: Whole-of-government approach to the integration of information systems, services, policies and programs.

Australian context

Australian Government states:

“that it intends to keep

pace with the application

of biometric technology to

improve border protection,

combat identity fraud, address

passenger volume issues and

meet international obligations”

Social responses

  • Indication that biometrics will become more widespread.

  • However there has been little consideration of how the community may respond to the technology.

Biometric system threats

  • Technical threats – software and hardware issues. Ability of the system to deal with physiological rate of change, gender, ethnicity, cost (user perspectives), direct/indirect medical implications.

  • Human threats – Unauthorized users, accidental and deliberate misuse.

  • Physical threats – natural disaster, storm, water, humidity, dust, lighting,

  • Theoretical threats – algorithm vulnerability, enrolment threats, physical and technical threats, circumvention, spoofing and biometric theft.

  • Other technical – standards, data management, interoperability etc.

Research aim – human factor issues

  • Identify the community perception of biometrics.

  • Identify and explore the variables which might influence the decision to adopt or reject biometric systems.

  • Applied diffusion of innovation theory (Rogers 1995).

    Diffusion research centers on the conditions

    which increase or decrease the likelihood that a

    new idea, product or practice will be adopted

    by the members of a given culture.

Diffusion theory states:

The decision to adopt or reject a new idea or innovation

will be influenced by:

  • receiver variables; social and personal characteristics, perceived need for the innovation etc;

  • relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, triability, observability;

  • time; and

  • communication sources.

Characteristics influencing perceptions of biometrics

Perceptions will change over

time and be

influenced by:

  • Personality characteristics

  • Social issues

1.Personality characteristics

  • Emotional status – influenced by phobias, drugs, alcohol, family, reasons for using the device (airports).

  • Psychological status of user – ability to understand and interact with the system.

  • Psychological dysfunction – psychological disorder, substance related, anxiety, dissociative disorder, impulsive control, reduced intellectual capacity, age.

2. Social issues

  • Privacy – data sharing/mining, access, disclosure etc

  • Function creep

  • Religion

  • Political stance

  • Socio-economic status - education

  • Usability of the system – effective, convenient, reward, intuitive, signage

  • Prior victimization – offender/victim

  • Physical disability/health issues – wheel chair, arthritis, laryngitis, injury.

  • Environmental issues – climate, clothing, type of industry, access to device

  • Social impact – intimidation, technology experience


Identified that the degree of

awareness and knowledge

potential users may have about

biometrics is directly influenced


  • personal, social and experiential characteristics;

  • a perceived need for the innovation;

  • social system variables; and

  • communication behavior.

Other points identified

  • Many were overwhelmed by using multiple passwords and PIN’s.

  • The level of knowledge about biometrics is low.

  • Health and safety is a concern.

  • The public would like more open debate and information about biometrics.

  • Majority are prepared to forgo some issues about privacy to increase more secure authentication mechanisms.

  • Fall back mechanism are required.

  • Primary concerns relate to data sharing, data security and privacy issues.

Social implications of introducing identity crime solutions such as biometrics.

  • Make society less trusting

  • Change the modus operandi

  • Displacement effects

  • Diffusion of benefits

Thank you

to discuss any of these issues

please contact

Suzanne Lockhart


0419 545 638

[email protected]

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